Extracts from 10 March Newsletter

Extracts from 10 March Newsletter

Monday, 11 March 2013 13:53



Click on images to enlarge


From Oliver Kite’s Nymph Fishing in Practise, Chapter 11, A Sunny August Day on Plunket Greene’s Bourne.



The Bourne near Hurstbourne Priors

‘I lost no time putting my tackle together: 8 ft. 6 in. glass rod, 10 ft. cast and a yard of fine nylon on the point, a well stocked fly box in one pocket, and, of course, a little pink nymph box containing remnants sharpened up for the occasion in the other. Then I turned my back on the quiet churchyard where, a stone’s throw from the river he loved so well, rests Harry Plunket Greene, the most famous Bourne fly-fisher of all.



The quite churchyard referred to by Kite

The Bourne hereabouts is very clear and quite shallow in places while its average width is about six yards. Plunket Greene wrote charmingly of this winsome stream, its golden gravel and bright green weed beds, and his favourite fly, the little Iron Blue, tripping along the surface down towards the Whitchurch road.’


Plunket Greene’s grave with fly boxes, a photo taken during a visit in 2010

Plunket Greene’s book on the Bourne, Where the Bright Waters Meet, is a masterpiece.  His tombstone is decked with fly boxes left by anglers who regularly come to pay homage to the man. I found it a very touching sight. And the Bourne, running nearby, is a gem. Notice the length of Kite’s leader here is just a whisker under four metres. But then this is one very tricky stream.


I fished this week with a delightful young man from Zurich, Andre Pollow. He had much to say about the problems these days finding good fly fishing waters in Switzerland – at least, for the average person. He had a lot more to say about the charm and beauty of our Cape fly streams!


André Pollow

He fished well and landed enough trout to make for a pleasant day, despite the outside air temperature hovering around 36°. Andre’s first rainbow, tiny as it was, was his first ever in Africa and so it was celebrated more as if it was 20 inches of fish, not just six.

The stream was low, the water was like cut crystal and there wasn’t a rise all day. So we relied heavily on spotting fish before casting to them. Tippets were around one and a third metres of soft 7X. Happily for us the breeze was upstream.


A better fish on the day




In a previous Newsletter (17 December 2012), I mentioned C&F Designs 3 in 1 Nail Knot tool and used it yesterday. It is an absolute gem for making a hole in the fly line before threading the nylon leader up the core of the line where it is secured with Super Glue. It literally only takes a few minutes! I bought mine from John Yelland and Mark Krige of Upstream Fly fishing. They just moved to a lovely new shop in Plumstead, Cape Town. http://www.upstreamflyfishing.co.za , phone 021 762 80 07.


Fine, filamentous gills are present on the abdominal segments of the vast majority of mayfly nymphs. They play a role in respiration and the exchange of salts. When you study a live mayfly nymph up close (as I did lifting rocks on a stream the other day) you will notice the gills are in continual motion, rapidly vibrating all the time. So they must surely represent a remarkable ‘trigger’. Despite this, few nymph patterns give the abdominal gills more than just a passing nod and none I have come across has convincingly captured the slender prominence or the movement of these gills.


Note the colour of the gills and their lattice-like delicacy. This is Afronurus (Heptageniidae) a ‘clinger’


Slender, delicate, forked gills of one of the ‘swimmers’, Paraleptophlibia

So here’s a challenge for serious fly tiers.


I leave early this week for the first of my annual pilgrimages to the Eastern Cape and the Rhodes and Barkly East district. As usual I will immerse myself in a mixture of delights – I will fish, tie flies, meet old friends and photograph the buzz and stitch of life in and around the rivers.


Landscape of Bokspruit with the Sterkspruit in the left foreground

I will spend the first night at Mount Melsetter in the Karoo with Mike and Candy Ferrar to break the long road trip (http://www.greatkaroo.co.za ), and the second in Rhodes viviting my old pal Ed Herbst. After that I will drop anchor at Birkhall, the Vosloo’s farm, for the rest of the stay. (http://www.gateshead.co.za )

Another fishing pal of many years and fellow fly fishing photography addict, Billy de Jong, will be joining me. We started photographing trout under water together in the Berg River in the Western Cape back in 2005. Let loose on a trout stream with cameras we are something to behold. Ed Herbst once experienced it and said, ‘Never again.’


Billy de Jong on Birkhall dam

From what I hear the rivers in Barkly are in reasonable shape, the fish are fat and the lakes on Birkhall are certainly producing good trout.

I will try to get a newsletter out during my stay via Jarred de Beer who now manages my website.


I am grateful to bamboo rod maker and architect, Steven Dugmore, for these images from a recent trip he made to the relatively unknown Jan du Toit’s River in the Western Cape.  This is one of the most beautiful trout sanctuaries on earth and one of Steven’s favourite haunts!

See Dugmore’s Freestone bamboo rods at http://www.freestonerods.co.za 




And talking of bamboo rod makers, here’s an in-store mug shot of Craig Thom sent to me this week by Steve Boshoff, another Cape-based bamboo rod maker. (I must say, we are blessed in the Cape with bamboo rod builders and excellent fly shops.)

Craig Thom you may well know. He runs a very successful retail and mail order fly shop (StreamX) and book business (NetBooks) from a store attached to his home in Milnerton. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or http://www.streamxflyfishing.co.za/products.htm )


In this picture Craig is wearing one of Boshoff’s new rod maker’s aprons. The wording below the now well known Boshoff logo reads: Steve Boshoff Fly Rods. Scarborough. Cape Town. South Africa.

Need an apron? Contact Steve Boshoff on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . He may have one left.


Dave Walker let me know that following last minute cancellations he has just two places available for this year’s Epson Wild Trout Association Festival in Rhodes. I strongly suggest you grab a place – or, better, both!

Venue: WTA waters in the Rhodes area
Starts: Wednesday, 20th March 2013 at Walkerbouts Inn in Rhodes
Ends: Saturday, 23rd March 2013 at Walkerbouts
Contact Dave Walker at  
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 045-9749290 or 082 8866690.

Says Dave:

The Epson Wild Trout Festival is almost upon us. Featuring in the goodie bags this year will be a revised version of the Republic of Rhodes passports, first introduced some years ago for a WTA festival and some holders of which ensure that theirs are stamped each year on their return.


Dudley Carstens, Acting Immigration Officer, Republic of Rhodes

 This festival also heralds the publication of the 2013 edition of the WTA guidebook that has a whopping 132 pages of information on fly fishing in the Eastern Cape Highlands.

 Another gift is a collection of fly fishing information that is even more voluminous than the guidebook, necessitating it being recorded on not one, but two DVDs! Ed Herbst has been writing, collecting and collating this masterpiece for several years. He has kindly made this veritable mine of information available for the 2013 festival participants!!


Ed Herbst in the Bokspruit River on Gateshead

 And speaking of Ed, he'll be on hand to regale participants not only with a wealth of fly fishing information, but with his famously popular anecdotes and stories!


There has ever been a delightful uncertainty attending the angler’s art, and therein lies one of its chiefest charms.

James Henshall, BOOK OF THE BLACK BASS (1881)

There is only one theory about angling in which I have perfect confidence, and this is that the two words least appropriate to any statement about it are the words ‘always’ and ‘never.’

Lord Grey of Fallodon, FLY FISHING (1899)

Tom Sutcliffe

10 March 2013

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